Saturday, 13 August 2011

Leeds 0 Middlesbrough 1

Simon Grayson shuffled his pack from the side which beat Bradford City in midweek with Tom Lees, Leigh Bromby, and Darren O'Dea all coming into the back-four. Rob Snodgrass and Max Gradel also returned while Aidy White and teenager Zac Thompson were named among the subs.United were looking to get off to a good league start at home and after one early raid that cut Boro open, Lees went close with a header from the resultant corner.Leeds started the game well and on the front foot, looking to exploit a nervy looking Boro side. Michael Brown broke up play well early doors and was the architect of a couple of United attacks.United also looked sold enough when Middlesbrough attacked and Bromby and Lees made good starts to the game.Boro goalkeeper Carl Ikeme was called upon to make a save on 22 minutes from Gradel when United threatened again. Clayton also did well to win the ball to get Leeds moving again, but his run was ended by a crude challenge by Rhys Williams.
United were dealt a blow on 26 minutes, though, when Gradel received a second yellow, after he was adjudged to have commited a foul. His first yellow had come early on, following a melee involving a number of players.
And as Boro put the ball into the box, following the free-kick, Andy Lonergan pulled off a superb fingertip save from a Marvin Emnes header.
The home fans were further angered shorty after the half-hour when Robert Snodgrass came off worst in a tussle and Boro were awarded a free-kick, but moments later a near champagne moment followed.

Clayton picked up the ball and delivered the most audacious of attempts from distance which almost caught out Ikeme, who had to react to turn the ball over the top. It would have been one of the most spectacular goals seen at the stadium.
But it was Lonergan who was called upon to make two more timely interventions. First, he raced off his line to collect then he saved a powerful strike from Justin Hoyte by tipping it on to the bar.
At the other end, Stephen McManus had to make a vital clearance to head a Robert Snodgrass cross over his own bar when Jonny Howson was well-placed.
There was still time for more drama, though, when referee Anthony Taylor levelled things up in the third minute of stoppage time by sending off Tony McMahon for a second yellow. McMahon's second card was for an apparent foul on Howson.
And so it was the second half would see a 10-a-side contest following the two dismissals. Boro started by winning a corner, but it was Leeds who again looked to apply some early pressure and Ross McCormack was first denied by some good defending, then by a foul.

From the resultant free-kick, Lees appeared to head home his first goal for the club, but the ball was somehow cleared off the line by Nicky Bailey just as the crowd erupted.
With 10 minutes of the second half gone, Grayson made his first change, introducing Ramon Nunez in place of Brown.
The game was taking on something of a ridiculous nature and Howson was next to feel the wrath of the referee when he was given a second yellow card for an apparent foul on Marvin Emnes. Both players protested, the Leeds players appearing to claim Emnes dived.
The numerical advantage was back in Boro's favour, and Bromby made a block on the line to deny Barry Robson. There followed a double change by Boro and the introduction of Zac Thompson, making his debut for Leeds.
But the visitors were in the lead on 67 minutes after Emnes cut inside from the left and blasted in from the tightest of angles.
It was a cruel blow for the nine-men of Leeds and, once in front, Boro looked to slow the game down and dictate the pace of proceedings.
Grayson did bring on Lloyd Sam for the final 15 minutes, but Boro were looking resolute and were making the extra man count.
The visitors also carved a couple more opportunities as the game edged towards its conclusion, Lonergan being called upon to make two more blocks. He also came out quickly to deny Scott McDonald after the ball fell kindly to the Boro man.
In the final minute, Clayton forged an opening that ended with Nunez winning a corner after his shot was blocked. Lonergan even came up for the resultant corner as United looked to force an equaliser.
The goalkeeper continued his impressive afternoon in stoppage time, though, saving well from Julio Arca, who tried his luck from distance.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time a free-kick from deep was cleared by Boro, and a Bromby throw-in was also hacked clear from inside the box as Leeds looked to press.
But there was to be no way back for United as the nine men slipped to a second league defeat of the season.

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